TALK about throwing down the gauntlet. The other A-League clubs now know that Melbourne City’s attack next season will include Mathew Leckie, as well as Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout.
The polish on the Premier’s Plate won this season has scarcely dried, and yet a major statement of intent for next season has come along already. Whatever happens in the finals, there appears to be no laurel-resting in mind for City coach Patrick Kisnorbo after winning silverware in his first season as a senior men’s head coach.
The timing of the deal is quite symbolic too, coming little more than 24 hours after Leckie captained the Socceroos and scored the opening goal in their 3-0 defeat of Kuwait in a World Cup qualifier. For City, and for the A-League, it is a major boon to have the national skipper signing up for next season, after a successful career in the Bundesliga.
Leckie and Maclaren are already getting on each other’s wavelengths in the Socceroos’ training camp in Kuwait, with another three internationals to come in coming days, and Nabbout would have been there too had he not injured an adductor playing for City on May 13.
As national coach, you imagine Graham Arnold will be particularly pleased to have three of his key attackers based at the same club, working together every day and gaining the sort of instinctive understanding it is so hard to foster at international level, given the paucity of time to train together.
From City’s point of view, It’s no surprise they are keen to talk up Leckie coming home to Melbourne, after he was born in the city’s western suburbs but began his A-League career – indeed, his professional football career – in Adelaide, before decamping to Germany. His signing augments an existing Victorian core in the City side, including Maclaren and Nabbout, Curtis Good and Stefan Colakovski.
Having local talent in the ranks remains one of the most effective ways to foster connection between a club and its putative supporter base – whether a deliberate policy or not, City’s growing pool of Melbournians is an important element in the development of a definable identity.